The 5 Most Effective Ways to Motivate Employees

Motivation Through Compensation

The first way to motivate employees is through compensation. Some would argue that compensation is not the most important element in motivating employees. And in rare exceptions, I agree. 

Compensation is incredibly important in drawing employees in to join your company, but after they join, it becomes less important. However, let’s talk about compensation and how it fits into motivating your employees. Compensation can consist of a base salary, commissions, bonuses, equity, benefits, and other perks. Every company offers a different combination of these potential ways of compensating employees, and as we speak right now in 2021, there is a battle for employees. So compensation packages are going up and employees are leaving at times to take what looks to be a better offer just because of the compensation. 

Each person is going to have a different set of requirements for what’s important to them regarding compensation. Part of the role of the CEO is to determine what is the right package to put together, to find the right talent, and bring the right talent in.

There’s an argument that says once compensation is met, that requirement is met, that no longer motivates people. There are other factors that motivate people. Let’s talk about those four other factors. 

Motivation Through Mastery

The first point of employee motivation is mastery. What does this mean? Mastery is what people are looking for in their life. They are looking to become better at what they do. They’re looking for opportunities to grow. They are looking for opportunities to position themselves for their next job. This is a very important motivator for people. The role of the CEO is to help their employees achieve mastery. The way a CEO does this is by looking at each employee interaction as a potential teaching moment.

When you’re working with someone you can teach them how you’ve done things in the past. You can teach them the clues to success. You can teach them how to think in a way that enables them to grow in their current role. Many of the skills around this can be around team management. If someone on your team is a great individual contributor, and now they’re in management, they have a whole new skill set to gain, And you have an opportunity as the CEO to give them mastery in management and leading.

Motivation Through Autonomy 

The next motivator is known as autonomy. Employees want to be left alone to do the job they need to do. So how do we achieve autonomy? How do we give employees autonomy so they’re motivated? The best way is around clarity around goals. This can be done in many different ways. One of my favorite ways is called OKRs or objectives and key results. And each employee has one or two or more key results that they’re focused on throughout a quarter. 

There’s something called the entrepreneurial operating system, which also gives people clarity around what they’re supposed to do during a 90-day period. If this CEO focuses on the issue of clarity around goals, in other words, here’s what I want you to do, not how I want you to do it, then that person is left with autonomy to determine the best way to achieve those goals. 

Motivation Through Purpose

The next motivator is purpose. Now, purpose is a little tricky. Not every company has an amazing purpose where they’re influencing something greater than what they’re doing in the world. But what I encourage every CEO to do is search for the purpose. Many companies do have a purpose where the impact of what they’re doing in their organization is bigger than the company itself. It has an impact on people’s lives, or it has an impact on the way people operate in the world or think about things in the world or makes them, um, happier in the world.

If you can determine a purpose for doing what you’re doing beyond just financial goals, that is a very powerful motivator. People wanna wake up in the morning, excited about doing something special. That is purpose. 

Motivation Through Acknowledgment and Recognition

The last key motivator is acknowledgment or employee recognition. How does this work? The role of the CEO is to provide feedback to their direct reports on what they’re doing well and what they’re not doing well, and in particular, CEOs are not that good at providing acknowledgments and positive feedback. Most of the time CEOs are spending time problem-solving, taking a look at ‘why isn’t this quite working the way I wanted it to’. ‘Why isn’t this person performing at the level I want them to?’ Acknowledgments are an extremely effective way to motivate people. Nobody has ever gone to the CEO and said, stop giving me acknowledgment. Stop telling me that I’m doing such a great job in front of everybody else.

Everyone wants to get that positive feedback. It’s actually wired into our brain. We receive positive neurochemicals, dopamine, and others when we are given positive feedback about the work we’re doing. We live for that. The CEO’s job is to make sure that every opportunity available, that they can give positive feedback to enable someone to understand what is it that they’re doing, that they should be doing more of. 

Those are the five best ways to motivate employees. Compensation, mastery, autonomy, purpose, and acknowledgments. I hope you, as a CEO will give your people all of these in high doses to continue to motivate them effectively to achieve at the highest possible level. 

Contact CEO Coach Glenn Gow Today!

My name is Glenn Gow, the Peak Performance CEO Coach. I love coaching CEOs and want to help make you an even better CEO. Let’s decide if we are a fit for each other. Schedule a time to talk with me at I look forward to speaking with you soon.